BY ANTON LUCANUS
The day has come. You are off to college for the start of what will very likely be the most exciting – and possibly challenging – years of your life. Between balancing your finances, juggling classes and figuring out how to handle real-life relationships, your college days will offer you more than just a few learning opportunities. But don’t be daunted by what lies ahead, simply be prepared. Here are a few simple life hacks for the 21st century student who wants to be do just this…
With the approximate 1.2 billion apps available for download in the App store today, it surely comes as no surprise that there are a tonne of apps dedicated purely to helping students get themselves organised. The intuitive homework planner Studious, for example, invites students to populate the app with information about their classes, times, professors and locations, as well as homework and exam information, and the app reminds students of important dates and classes just in time. There is also Scribd, an app which allows students to find hundreds of thousands if not millions of relevant documents, books and papers to help with their studies; and StudyChecker, which records your daily, weekly, monthly breaks and studies to generate personal study statistics and helps you to divide your studying breaks up evenly for each subject or exam.
Though not designed specifically for students, Any.Do is another gamechanger for students seeking to organize themselves more efficiently. This app helps users create the ultimate ‘to-do’ list, then synchronizes it with all devices so that the planner can be accessed from anywhere. Students can mark tasks as complete, set themselves reminders, and all tasks are synced with Google calendar meaning students can get a visual impression of what their upcoming week looks like.
You will be surprised when realize how much time can be saved with such organization and daily schedule planning. Just imagine how that you will finally have a time for dancing lessons, foreign languages, book clubs or even join life support classes. Everything that you ever wanted but always postponing due to the constant good old “I have no time” issue.
Quit Being Distracted
The old-fashioned approach would simply be to switch off your phone and not listen to music while studying. In this day and age where studying and completing homework typically involves having multiple tabs open in front of you at once, something a little more hardcore is required to deter students from the temptations of social media and other binge-worthy internet sites. There are a handful of apps which allow you to block distracting websites for a chosen period of time, meaning that until that time lapses you cannot access those sites under any circumstance. This is an absolute gamechanger for college students, who typically struggle to go more than 20 minutes without checking their social media accounts…
Is your go-to approach to studying last-minute cramming? Energizing yourself with late night coffees, sweets and red bull in order to make the most of those final opportunities to study? Well, it turns out that can actually be having a detrimental effect on your ability to retain that information. The BBC reported that planning more effective, spaced out study time is in fact more effective for 90 per cent of students, despite the fact that 72 per cent of students would argue otherwise. This is because, contrary to our metacognitive instincts, the trade-off between sleep and study just isn’t worth it. UCLA researchers have confirmed that regardless of how much a student studies in one day, if that student sacrifices sleep time in order to study, he or she is likely to have academic problems as a result the following day.
Focus on the Font
Avoid easy-to-read fonts such as Arial Black when creating your study notes, since it has been proven that information presented in more difficult-to-read fonts is retained much better by students on average. In one study carried out at Princeton University, subjects were given 90 seconds to memorize information before given a 15-minute break as a distraction. When tested on the content of the information studied after the break, those who had read in an easy-to-read font (Arial pure black) answered 72.8 per cent of the answers correctly, compared to 86.5 per cent of those who had studied the material in hard-to-read fonts (a smaller Comic Sans MS font or Bondoni MT in a lighter shade).
Beyond those apps that can help you to self-organize your life, there are also subject specific apps that can help make your life easier. If you are studying to become a video editor or need to edit your own videos for class projects, for example, there are a whole heap of video editing programs that will allow you to work on becoming the next Michael Khan.
For those studying sports and exercise science, you have your pick of fitness apps including Yo-Yo Test, Beep Test, VERT – for testing vertical jump measurements – and Photo Finish Timer, which doesn’t really require explaining. For artists in the making, there are apps besides Pinterest that will inspire creativity in budding artists, including Procreate, Artnear, TypeDrawing and Sketchbook Pro, to name a few. Have a browse of the App store today and get yourself set up with any apps that might make your studies that little bit easier…
Learn to Love Coffee
This legal drug is a must for every college student – some may even tout it as their life support, unable to function without it. Coffee is the elixir which keeps many students going. There is no other substitute which is able to give you that caffeine buzz to kick start your morning and keep you focused when you need the late nights.
Between its ability to fuel you through long studious days after sleepless nights of revelling and its longstanding reputation as offering the ultimate excuse to network and meet potential new employers and mentors, you really ought to hone your love of this bitter beverage before starting University. It’s also waaaaay more affordable than food, meaning coffee is the cheapest breakfast going around. (Disclaimer: Eating a healthy breakfast is important too, I am simply a realist and aware of one’s typical University budget).
Byline – Anton Lucanus is the Director of Neliti. During his college years, he maintained a perfect GPA, was published in a top cancer journal, and received many of his country’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships. Anton writes for The College Puzzle as a means to guide current students to achieve personal and academic goals